Minneapolis, MN – As the Rink Rats gear up for this season’s draft, GM Tyler LaDouceur has been busy restructuring his team for long-term success. Part of that was acquiring four 2nd round draft picks and two 3rd round picks in the coming draft. LaDouceur has also stated that he has an interest in moving up in this year’s draft to obtain a 1st round pick. As such, names like Andy McDonald, John-Michael Liles, Jamie Langenbrunner, Peter Regin and even Brad Richards have been brought up in trade talks. Leading up to the draft, we had the opportunity of sitting down with LaDouceur and Head Coach, Dan Bylsma.
Q: Do you have any specific needs you’re looking to address in the coming draft?
LaDouceur: We have plans to take the best player available this year. With that said, we feel pretty comfortable with our goaltending situation at the moment so we’re obviously going to place an emphasis on forwards and defenseman but if Gustavsson or Campbell slide to the 2nd round will snag them up.
Bylsma: Looking at how the draft is projecting at the moment there are a lot of good prospects who could slide to the 2nd round. Guys like Emerson Etem, Nick Bjugstad, Jarred Tinordi, Derek Forbort, etc aren’t projected as 1st round players at the moment and could fall to us in the 2nd round. There’s some good potential in this group, especially in a guy like Etem who is one of the fastest players in the draft.
Q: There have been rumors you’re looking to move up in the draft; any truth to them?
LaDouceur: Absolutely! We have been in talks with a few teams about moving up to the middle of the 1st round. Nothing concrete yet but there’s some prospects. We’ll see what happens.
Q: What about moving Brent Burns? That had to be a tough decision and ultimately what made you decide to move him?
Bylsma: It was a very tough decision. Burns won the Norris for us two years ago. He had a tough time last season but was battling nagging injuries. We got a good offer that included a young prospect in Peter Regin who has a lot of potential plus a couple of good picks for this season. Burns has had some issues with concussions so that also played into the decision a little bit.
Q: There were rumors about some last-minute issues with the deal. Any truth to them?
LaDouceur: We confirmed the deal but had some second thoughts so we nearly backed out. We did get a very good offer from another club as well but that didn’t play a role in our decision to try and back out.
Q: What about the status of Ryan Miller?
LaDouceur: Miller is the best goaltender in the world. He’ll probably win 5-10 games for us this season on his own. We’ve made no secret that no player is untouchable on this club but it’d take a lot to move Miller. We’ve had a few teams inquire but nothing is going to happen. The asking price would be 1-2 good prospects or a goaltender in there, plus a 1st round pick this season. Not many teams could pull it off.
Q: Finally, what’s the outlook for this season? Do you feel you are a playoff/Cup contender?
Bylsma: On paper I imagine we’re on the bubble for playoff teams. We have some issues on the wing, and are still searching for a puck-moving defenseman to help us out, but we have three great centers and two amazing goalies which should set us apart from other teams. It’ll be an interesting season to say the least. The way the league is structured now, if we’re going to make the playoffs we better be sure we’re going to have a shot. I don’t want to be an 8th seed and worry about losing 2 players in the waiver draft. So we’re going to be aware of that moving forward and who knows we could be looking at a rebuild.